What a Diff’rence

What a Diff’rence

Six years ago, I started a paper on the articulation of desire in the cinema of Wong Kar Wai. I'm still convinced, he's one of the most revolutionary directors of our generation. Here's the introduction, from the archives.

‘What a diff’rence a day makes…’ Of course, the moment that Dinah Washington reaches the chorus, in her passionate and sonorous intonations, she forever transforms the last refrain of this beautiful ballad, from its past tense, to its present formulation. 

The difference can still be heard in her splendid rendition of this momentous standard, adopted from the Spanish, and performed countless times, at the bequest of numerous artists, (especially the crooners): from Frank Sinatra to Tony Bennett. 

There is no clear indication, however, from the 1959 Mercury album, ‘What a Diff’rence a Day Makes’, that Washington intended to alter the lyrics, but rather, that she merely lost herself in her own perfervid voice. Enraptured, she became displaced, in the build up to the intense chorus refrain (and mistakenly replaced the made, with makes).

Her spirited performance, recorded in the studio, still persists in its transformed state and the intended audience remains the same. Indeed, it is the nature of her inflection, from the past perfect to the perfect present, that lends itself to cinematic interpretation, lucid and resplendent in its presentation.